A much-changed World Cup

With the FIFA World Cup starting later this month, marketers will no doubt have plans to take advantage of the opportunities that the pulling power of football has.

FIFA confirmed that the 2018 World Cup was watched by a combined total of 3.6 billion viewers and it is estimated that 5 billion will be watching this year. For almost a whole month, the tournament will dominate the news and online discussion which will provide plenty of marketing opportunities for all types of businesses to capitalise on the event.

However, gambling advertisers in particular should be mindful of complying with the new rules which came into force on 1 October 2022 following a consultation of the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP).

What are the new rules?
The new rules prohibit adverts for gambling and lotteries that have a “strong” appeal to those under the age of 18, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture. This means that adverts will be prohibited where the content has a strong appeal to under-18s no matter how the advert would be viewed by adults. Reference to content extends to the use of imagery, themes and characters which may be used to entice the younger audience into the advert.

How has this changed?
The rules prior to 1 October 2022 required that adverts should not be of “particular” appeal to under-18s, meaning that the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) would consider whether a gambling or lottery advert appealed more strongly to children than it did to adults. Therefore, the notion as to whether the advert appeals more to those under or over the age of 18 is now irrelevant.

What effect will this have?
This change will no doubt restrict the content that gambling advertisers have at their disposal. Some examples of the content that they will no longer be able to use in the context of football and more generally are:

  • sportspeople well-known to under-18s, including sportspeople with a considerable volume of under-18 followers on social media, such as international footballers;
  • social media influencers who are of strong appeal to those under-18; or
  • video game content and gameplay popular with under-18s.

This begs the question who or what will replace them given the propensity of which they are featured in these kinds of promotions. Should marketers be in any doubt, the CAP has released detailed advertising guidance to assist.

Notably, the advertising guidance includes exemptions to the strict new rules. Where the gambling or lottery product being advertised relates to activities and events that have an inherent strong appeal to under-18s (e.g. football or videogaming), the activity and event is exempted from the restrictions provided that the advertiser takes “appropriate steps” to limit the advert’s potential strong appeal to under-18s. Examples of “appropriate steps” to limit reference to the underlying activity and event must be limited to:

  • Text or audio references to the activity/product;
  • Generic depictions of the sport or game;
  • Logos of teams/competitions that are the subject of a product;
  • Advertisers brand logos/identifiers;
  • Lottery prizes and good causes, such as an athlete who has received lottery funding directly; and/or
  • Use of persons or characters who pass the test set out in the guidance such as a long retired footballer who is better known for his/her commentary or punditry.


These new restrictions demonstrate CAP strengthening its commitment to safeguarding young people and vulnerable audiences and it will be interesting to see the impact this has on marketers in the near future, particularly during the FIFA World Cup.

Marketers will need to satisfy themselves to a “high degree of confidence” that their advert is unlikely to have a strong appeal to under-18s before it is published and, in the event of any subsequent investigation, the ASA expects to see a detailed assessment as to why the marketer considered that this was the case.

If you have any queries on this article or require any advice on your advertising strategies, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the Commercial team.

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